Dr. Bryan Johnson selected a Superintendent to Watch by national organization NSPRA
Posted on 09/03/2020
Photo: Dr. Bryan Johnson speaking with a Hamilton County Schools studentDr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, is one of 24 school leaders from across the country to be named a Superintendent to Watch by NSPRA, a national organization serving school communication. NSPRA selected the superintendents for their use of communication technology in innovative and effective ways. The school leaders engage and inform their school communities with new communication technology tools combined with tried-and-true techniques. Selection criteria required those selected to have less than five years of experience as a superintendent in a school district and possess dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication at its core.

Dr. Bryan Johnson has brought excellence to Hamilton County Schools as he begins his fourth year as superintendent, and he has been recognized for district accomplishments locally, statewide, and nationally. The national publication, Education Week, named Dr. Johnson one of their Leaders to Learn From for 2020. The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents recognized Dr. Johnson as the 2020 S.E. Tennessee Superintendent of the Year and he is one of eight finalists for Tennessee Superintendent of the Year. He is a respected leader in the community, forging partnerships with businesses, political leaders, and community organizers.

Hamilton County Schools experienced historic academic growth and achievement in the last three years, making HCS the fastest improving school district in Tennessee. The district had 32 Reward Schools in 2019 – the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee. HCS also had 45 Level 5 schools for student academic growth, 21 schools earned Level 5 in all categories, and sixty-six schools were at or above state expectations for growth.

Hamilton County Schools doesn't just share what is happening in the schools but also gives a voice to staff, parents, students, and the community. Dr. Johnson is a leader who listens and makes the community part of the improvement process. He started an annual State of the System address; formed advisory groups for teachers, students, and parents; surveyed teachers and parents when new school leadership is selected; and involving business and industry leaders in the schools.

Johnson has "Sit-downs with the Superintendent" with teachers at schools to hear how district policies impact the classroom and what he can do to help teachers be even more effective in reaching children. Dr. Johnson also has a Teacher Cabinet that shares ideas with him to improve results for children.

Dr. Johnson has a Student Advisory Council to give him insight into how students view their school experience. He also looked to the students to help plan for graduation during the pandemic using the student council and surveys. The student perspective allowed the district to provide a graduation experience in line with what graduates would like to see as they finished their school experience. A parent advisory committee is also a vital part of Dr. Johnson's listening program to help keep the district in touch with the people the district serves.

Connecting to these groups did not stop during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Dr. Johnson found new ways to reach out to staff, students, and parents. He held very successful Zoom forums with a larger attendance than the face-to-face meetings held before the pandemic.

Dr. Johnson worked with the Hamilton County Board of Education and the community to develop a five-year strategic plan to direct the work of the district. The plan is Future Ready 2023 and includes five main areas of focus, Accelerate Student Achievement, Future Ready Students, Great Teachers and Leaders, Efficient and Effective Operations, and Engaged Community. Future Ready 2023 leads the work of the district and the communications efforts. A goal of communications for the district is to make sure the five-year strategic plan is a living document. Two-way communication with the staff, parents, and business leaders is producing the Engaged Community planned in Future Ready 2023.